Wicklesham Quarry SSSI: under threat of industrial development

by Anna Hoare

Wicklesham Quarry SSSI: under threat of industrial development

by Anna Hoare
Conservation Target Area, "one of Britain's richest palaeontological sites", and host of endangered plants and animals.
Funded
on 26th October 2016
£10,265
pledged by 71 people
Conservation Target Area, "one of Britain's richest palaeontological sites", and host of endangered plants and animals.

Appeal goes LIVE on Saturday 20th May for Judicial Review hearing

May 17, 2017

Dear supporter of Protect Wicklesham Quarry from Development,

Together we did it! You helped me get to the High Court by donating over £10,000 to enable me to apply for a Judicial Review. The case will now be heard on 14-15 June at the Royal Courts of Justice. Will you help support me once again when the new CrowdJustice Appeal goes live in 3 days time? 

The hard work involved in ...

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Stop Wicklesham Quarry SSSI from becoming a logistics site  

Hundreds of people have signed my online petition to Protect Wicklesham Quarry from Development. Wicklesham Quarry lies outside Faringdon in Oxfordshire in an area of high landscape value, the Corallian Ridge. Natural England calls it "one of Britain's richest palaeontological sites"

It has over 150 "very rich and unusual species" of fossils, many of which are found nowhere else. Its naturalised ponds have breeding colonies of Great Crested Newts, a European Protected Species, as well as toads, smooth and palmate newts. It is part of West Oxfordshire Heights Conservation Target Area, hosting Priority Habitat, and Wicklesham tetrad has ELEVEN rare plant species*Planning conditions state it must be restored to agricultural use, and four independent reviews** have found that turning Wicklesham into an industrial site is unjustified and/ or unsustainable. 

Since quarrying finished in 2010, it has been used to store imported sand and gravel (shown in the top photo), in order to avoid restoring it. The Vale of White Horse District Council has rejected the landowner's bids to include it in the Local Plan as an industrial site since 2008, saying it is "well in excess" of Faringdon's needs to 2027. However, Faringdon Council supports the landowner's aim to turn Wicklesham Quarry into a 20 acre industrial warehousing site, and has included it in the Neighbourhood Plan for (B2/ B8) warehousing.

A logistics site stretching alongside the A420 at Faringdon would create a development corridor bringing 24 hour HGV traffic onto this already busy road. It would create urban sprawl in open countryside and destroy the town's valued landscape setting. Faringdon's unique and irreplaceable site of geo and biodiversity would be lost for ever under warehouses. 

If Wicklesham Quarry SSSI cannot be protected, then no nationally designated site is safe.  


The next steps

I need your help to bring a Judicial Review.  

I need to raise £10,000 in order to apply for a Judicial Review by 25th October, with a stretch target of £16,500 once the application is granted. This includes the court fee, preparation and submission of documents, an application hearing and full hearing. It also allows for restricted costs under the Aarhus agreement.

I strongly believe that the Neighbourhood Plan does not meet the Basic Conditions required in law. Barrister Pavlos Eleftheriadis of FTB chambers, and solicitor Linda Felton of Fortune Green Legal Practice will be representing me. This case has unique aspects and will set legal precedents. 

This is what my barrister says:

"The case raises many important points of principle of environmental justice. It will allow the court to examine how far a Neighbourhood Plan can depart from the strategic choices of the broader Local Plan, what effect a Biodiversity Action Plan has on planning policy, how exactly environmental assessment informs such a process, as well as the role and weight of restoration and aftercare obligations when quarrying operations come to an end."  

I hope my case will help other communities trying to protect the environment and prevent quarrying being used as a back-door for industrialising the countryside. 

Since 2014 local people have campaigned to Protect Wicklesham Quarry from Development using our own resources. Aimee Harris raised £47 for leaflets and a poster that I displayed on market day with a petition, and in Faringdon public library. Thanks to Aimee, dozens of people heard about the campaign and signed up to support it. 

Wicklesham Quarry lies at the centre of a network of footpaths, bridleways and viewing points which connect Faringdon to the surrounding countryside. It is the key to understanding Faringdon's historic landscape setting and coral limestone architecture, mid-way between the chalk downs of the Ridgeway and the Upper Thames, on an ancient coral reef.

The famous 'Faringdon fossils'

Wicklesham Quarry's fossils have been in museum collections since 1699, making it one of the earliest documented palaeontological sites in Britain. It is a "type site", which means Faringdon has given its name to Faringdon fossils, the Faringdon Greensands, and Faringdon Sponge Gravels - reflecting the Quarry's unique geology.

Climate change science

SSSI sites like Wicklesham Quarry are part of our shared natural heritage, an educational resource, as well as being living laboratories for scientists. They may even have a contribution to make towards our own survival on earth. Recently, fossil Foraminifera have come to play a key role in climate change science. In 1986, M. A. Wilson discovered one new genus and three new species of Foraminifera at Wicklesham Quarry! 

With your help, I believe I can succeed in protecting the rare, natural diversity and scientific assets of Wicklesham Quarry for future generations. Please help me save this unique site before it is too late! 

Thank you for reading my appeal.


* C. D. Preston, D. A. Pearman & T. D. Dines, eds. (2002): New Atlas of the British and Irish Flora.     Oxford: Oxford University Press.        (Supported by DEFRA)

** URS Ltd Employment Land Reviews 2008 & 2013; The Vale of White Horse District Council Core Strategy 'Preferred Options' Consultation and Review 2009; Faringdon Neighbourhood Plan Sustainability Scoping Report & Sustainability Appraisal  2014.


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Appeal goes LIVE on Saturday 20th May for Judicial Review hearing

May 17, 2017

Dear supporter of Protect Wicklesham Quarry from Development,

Together we did it! You helped me get to the High Court by donating over £10,000 to enable me to apply for a Judicial Review. The case will now be heard on 14-15 June at the Royal Courts of Justice. Will you help support me once again when the new CrowdJustice Appeal goes live in 3 days time? 

The hard work involved in preparing the case has been underway since March - paying court fees, creating document bundles, meeting with lawyers, and many hours of legal preparation, and I must meet these mounting costs. Thanks to you, we are preparing a case with far-reaching consequences.

                                                                              *

Neighbourhood Plans give unprecedented opportunities for those who stand to benefit financially from development to write policies for their own land. This is what has happened in Faringdon, Oxfordshire. Wicklesham Quarry should have high expectations of protection- it is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Conservation Target Area, and hosts Priority Habitat and European Protected Species. It is in open countryside in the National Character Area of the Midvale Corallian Ridge, and has planning conditions for restoration to agriculture. The Vale of White Horse District Council has repeatedly rejected the landowner's aspiration to turn this rural site into an industrial estate, most recently in 2016.

                                                                              *

Wicklesham Quarry raises untested legal questions, and the case will have important consequences for environmental protection and the democratic accountability of the planning system. I am asking the Court to decide whether a Neighbourhood Plan can : - 

* over-ride planning conditions for restoration to agriculture when quarrying comes to an end?

* over-ride policies for landscape, biodiversity, and the protection of a nationally designated site?

* ignore the strategic policies of a Local Plan on where development should take place, and independent assessments of how much land should be allocated for housing and employment?

                                                                           *

Please help me to bring this case by making a donation when the CrowdJustice Appeal goes LIVE on SATURDAY 20th MAY. Thank you once more for your support - together I believe we can protect this unique and irreplaceable site for future generations!

With many thanks and best wishes,   

  Anna

Funded

Oct. 26, 2016

We hit our first target!

Wicklesham Appeal Countdown! £9,120 in pledges and six days to go!

Oct. 26, 2016

Dear Supporter,

I just want to let you know that, thanks to your generosity, I am very close to reaching the target of £10,000! Although Crowdjustice allows the Appeal to run for 30 days, I have to aim for 31st October in order to meet the deadline to apply for Judicial Review. 

I have been overwhelmed by the support I've received from donors since the Appeal went live, and just want to send everyone a huge thank you! 

The campaign to Protect Wicklesham Quarry from Development has a 2 1/2 year history,  in which local people have tried to ensure environmental justice in a neighbourhood plan process. Thanks to your support, I hope the campaign will be able continue to the High Court. 

I shall keep you posted with news on the Appeal, and of my case as it progresses.

Many thanks, and best wishes,

Anna

Only 10 days to go! I must make £10,000 to apply for Judicial Review!

Oct. 21, 2016

Dear Supporters,

A quick post to let you know that our court deadline has moved back by one week. That means I MUST REACH OUR £10,000 TARGET  by 31st OCTOBER! It's only 10 days away- so please pull out all the stops to help me get there! Keep sending the Appeal link to friends and colleagues, and post all the Petition updates to Facebook. If you donated without having signed the online petition at Change.Org, signing it will ensure that I can send you regular news on the campaign to your email address. The online petition link is: https://www.change.org/p/faringdon-town-council-the-vale-of-white-horse-district-council-and-secretary-of-state-sajiv-javid-protect-wicklesham-quarry-from-development

And please get in touch at protectwicklesham@gmail.com with any queries- or just to say 'Hello'! Thank you once again for your wonderful support for Wicklesham Quarry, Faringdon's unique and irreplaceable site!

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